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Hills Bank and Trust Company

HBT Connect eNewsletter from Hills Bank and Trust Company

  HBT Connect  
Volume 1, Issue 5: September - October 2011  

  Last Minute Ways to Save for the Holidays

It’s hard to imagine the holiday shopping season is just around the corner. Saving money takes discipline, especially for the holidays. Sometimes unexpected expenses cause you to fall short on your holiday saving goals. Here are some ideas to increase your holiday shopping savings.

Consignment Shops: Do you have closets full of items you no longer use? Taking gently worn clothing and used items to your local consignment shop is a great way to turn your cluttered closets into cash for the holidays.

Create an Account Specifically for Holiday Shopping: Even if you can only save $5 per week, it can add up in time for holiday shopping. Open a second account and set up automatic deposits from your checking into your new "holiday fund" account.

Employee Reimbursements: If your job requires travel and you get mileage reimbursements, use them to boost your holiday savings.

Have a “No Spend” Month: Try a month of not spending any money that isn’t absolutely necessary. Use the food in your pantry and freezer instead of buying new groceries. Use toiletries that are almost gone before buying new. Don’t go to movies, restaurants, or do recreational shopping during your "no spend" month. Challenge yourself to purchase only bare necessities and you'll be surprised how much money you'll save in the nick of time for the holidays.

Trade the Change Jar for a Dollar Jar: In addition to your change jar, start a dollar jar and store all your dollar bills for holiday shopping. Keeping dollars in an untouchable jar will also help keep you from being tempted to spend them on morning lattes, vending machine snacks, or other non-essentials.

It isn’t too late to start your holiday shopping savings! Utilizing even a few of the above tips will help you prepare for the most wonderful time of year, and keep your finances intact for the upcoming holiday shopping season.

  Get Organized for Holiday Shopping

Now that you are on track with holiday savings, the next step is to get organized, create a budget, and not overspend to avoid paying for the holidays well into 2012.

Maximize holiday spending power with these tips.

Make a Spending Plan: Santa makes a list and checks it twice, and so should you. Determine who you want to get gifts for, and see if they can be categorized to make group gifts instead of individual gifts. Group gifts can be a great way to stretch your dollar while giving more value to be shared and enjoyed by more than one person. Consider making breakfast for your co-workers one morning verses individual gifts, or give your nieces or nephews a sled they can enjoy together. Creating experiences that can be remembered years later will have a longer lasting effect than the season's hottest holiday gift trends.

Estimate how much money you will have saved for holiday shopping and track how much you can spend on each person without falling into the red. If your dollars don’t stretch as far as you would like, you might need to try additional ways to “last minute save” before the holidays.

Track Your Spending: Have you ever started your Christmas decorating and discovered gifts purchased at post-holiday sales but were forgotten about? Tracking your holiday spending year round will remind you of great gift purchases at a great price that may have been forgotten. It will also help once the hectic holiday shopping season begins so you don’t overspend because you forgot previous purchases. If you find you have problems remembering to track spending, keep a list in your smartphone, or carry a little notebook to jot down gifts purchased and prices while waiting in line.

Shop Early and With a List: Shopping early and with a list allows you more time to price compare and find the best deals. Often times, last minute shoppers are likely to spend more. Here’s the hard part: once you have completed your list, quit shopping! Sticking to a list will help you avoid impulse purchases.

Keep Stocking Stuffers Simple: Instead of high dollar items like jewelry or high-tech gadgets, keep your stocking stuffers simple. Take advantage of bulk items on sale or “free after rebate” items that can be used as great stocking stuffers.

Use Your Talents: Are you known for a favorite dish or dessert you make? Do you have a hobby or talent that could be turned into gifts? If so, get baking and get crafty! Baking in bulk helps you save money and time. Putting personalized touches on scrapbook pages, pictures, or a recipe book can be a very meaningful gift that is also inexpensive. Homemade gifts are often the most cherished because they come from the heart.

Often times the most thoughtful gift isn’t one that you spend the most money on. Gift giving is about saying “I care” rather than, “I spent a lot.” The most important part of the holidays is the family traditions and cherished moments spent with loved ones.


What's Your Money Personality?

We’re all familiar with spending extremes: the spendthrift who declares bankruptcy because of mountains of personal debt, the miser who dies leaving an unsuspected fortune behind, or the disorganized that don't know where their money is going. People are very different when it comes to handling money.

Big Spender
Does “now you see it, now you don’t” describe what happens to your paycheck? Do you charge items as soon as there’s room on your credit cards? If you just can’t resist spending, you need to work on taking control of your finances by spending less and saving more. Devise a plan to pay off your credit cards. Remove temptation to spend by increasing your retirement plan payroll deduction. Or contribute to an IRA through an automatic checking account deduction. You might even want to request lower credit limits while you pay down card balances.

Fanatically Frugal
Is the proverbial “first dollar you ever made” hanging in a frame on your wall? Are you still wearing clothes you bought in college? If you have enough money stashed away for an entire rainy season, maybe you need to examine your lack of spending habits. While frugality can be admirable, too much of a good thing may keep you and your family from sharing activities that would be worth a lot more than what’s in your bank account. Sure, you should save and invest — but not every cent. Develop a budget that allows you to accumulate assets and still enjoy life.

Disorganized to a Fault
Can’t find your checkbook, let alone last month’s bank statement? Don’t know how much you’ve charged on your credit cards because the sales slips have fallen between the sofa cushions? Not knowing where your money goes or how much is in your bank account is a sure path to financial disaster. Invest in a filing system and start organizing everything related to your finances: bank and financial statements, pay stubs, bills, credit and debit card receipts, and ATM and deposit slips. Then review your spending habits. You may be surprised at how you spend your money.

When it comes to finances, remember that having a balanced “money personality” is key.


Greater Cedar Rapids Parade of Homes Greater Cedar Rapids Parade of Homes

The Greater Cedar Rapids Area Home Builders Association is hosting its annual Parade of Homes. Homes are open on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 pm and on Tuesday and Thursday from 5 to 8 pm.

  • Saturday, September 24
  • Sunday, September 25
  • Tuesday, September 27
  • Thursday, September 29
  • Saturday, October 1
  • Sunday, October 2

Visit the Greater Cedar Rapids Area Home Builders Association website for more details.


Alzheimer's from the Inside Out
Presented by Richard Taylor, PhD a person living with dementia

After his diagnosis in 2001, thinking, speaking, and writing about what it is like for him to live with this condition became Richard Taylor’s new purpose for his life. He speaks of Alzheimer’s from the inside out to create a supportive community where others affected by the challenges of dementia can speak up.

Come hear Richard share his ideas as he helps to demystify and disarm Alzheimer’s disease and all forms of dementia.

Wednesday, October 5th - 7:00 pm
Coralville Center for the Performing Arts
5th Street and 12th Avenue, Coralville
Free and open to the public.

Learn more about Richard Taylor, author of the book Alzheimer’s from the Inside Out, at richardtaylorphd.com.

Sponsored by Hills Bank and the UI College of Nursing


Holiday Schedule

The bank will be closed on the following holidays:

Veterans' Day
Friday, November 11th

Thanksgiving Day
Thursday, November 24th

Even though we will be closed, you can still do your banking at over 70 Hills Bank ATMs in the Cedar Rapids - Iowa City Corridor, Hills Bank Online, via mobile banking, or through Push Button Banker.

View the complete Hills Bank holiday schedule.

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